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New partnership to increase art businesses downtown

March 15, 2011
From right, Katie Robiadek, program manager for the Arts Council of Greater Lansing, Lansing resident Matt Bebermeyer and Shiawassee County resident Christopher Endsley listen to Leslie Donaldson, executive director for the Arts Council of Greater Lansing, Tuesday at SCENE Metrospace, 110 Charles St. Donaldson was presenting on behalf of East Lansing's Cultural Entrepreneurship Program, which is designed to help artists establish businesses in the East Lansing community. Matt Radick/The State News
From right, Katie Robiadek, program manager for the Arts Council of Greater Lansing, Lansing resident Matt Bebermeyer and Shiawassee County resident Christopher Endsley listen to Leslie Donaldson, executive director for the Arts Council of Greater Lansing, Tuesday at SCENE Metrospace, 110 Charles St. Donaldson was presenting on behalf of East Lansing's Cultural Entrepreneurship Program, which is designed to help artists establish businesses in the East Lansing community. Matt Radick/The State News —
Photo by Matt Radick | and Matt Radick/The State News The State News

A partnership between East Lansing officials and the Arts Council of Greater Lansing aim to spread the love of art and business throughout the downtown area.

Local artists and creative entrepreneurs gathered Tuesday at (SCENE) Metrospace, 110 Charles St., to discuss the Downtown East Lansing Cultural Entrepreneurship Program that will establish the founding of an arts-based business by allowing entrepreneurs to apply for loans and grants, said Leslie Donaldson, the executive director for the Arts Council of Greater Lansing.

“Part of the reason why the city and our agency are working together on this program is because we have a natural connection to the arts culture constituency and this region,” she said.

The program — which was created in 2007 — is federally funded by the Community Development Block Grant program and currently represents four local artists, said Amy Schlusler-Owens, a community development specialist II in the East Lansing Department of Planning & Community Development.

“This is important because we want to be an energy-charged community,” she said.

Coming off the excitement of the construction of the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum, city officials adopted the program as a way to incorporate art into the downtown area, Donaldson said.

“What were trying to do is look at a 10-year plan where we create Greater Lansing … as part of the destination for creative innovators and entrepreneurs,” she said.

Local entrepreneur Matt Bebermeyer, the artistic co-director for Happendance, 3448 Hagadorn Road, in Okemos, was interested in furthering his personal business, BodyMotions LLC., 1212 1/2 Turner St., in Lansing, a personal training company that specializes in athletic, dancer and rehabilitation training.

“(I’m) looking to start a co-op for dancers, musicians and media artists to collaborate — a meeting space,” he said. “There is a need for performance space that’s not a bar.”

Others, such as Trenell Anderson, a Lansing and East Lansing small business owner, thought the program would foster a positive community for artists coming to Lansing and East Lansing.

“A lot of unseen artists will be (getting the opportunity to be well) known,” he said. “Word of mouth is a very effective tool — there is no telling where the numbers will go.”

News of the partnership encourages moderate-income artists and creative practitioners to practice their art in the downtown district, Donaldson said.

“We really want to create an environment, especially in Lansing and East Lansing, to grow creative enterprise — that’s our vision,” she said.

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